Arrival

We have arrived. Summer has finally unfolded itself into being the ripe, bright, generous season that I know and love. The morning light is soft and enveloping at 5am, and the cool breeze that seeps in through open windows shivers my bare shoulders in bed at night. And the sunsets: oh please, soak up those sunsets.

Summer solstice is coming up, just as I have finally stopped looking over my shoulder for a snow storm (sadly, I truly mean that). Our peonies are blooming, I harvested my first round of spinach, my daily wake-up routine is serenaded by birds, and Saturday mornings are all about the farmer’s market. Oh, yes – we have arrived.

With summer comes the anticipated shift in gears; the urge to move faster, do more, lap up all the goodness with wild abandon. However, as it just so happens, this whole growing-a-baby experience has been forcing me to slow down. Chill out. Relax a little. It’s a tough thing for me, and I’ve only recently started to settle into my new speed. I told my doctor at my last check-up that running has been making my hips and back ache, but I was worried that “just walking” wouldn’t get my heart rate up and provide an adequate work-out. She smiled that tiny, curt smile she does so well and told me, “Getting your heart rate up  isn’t the goal right now. Movement, fresh air, and getting your blood moving is what you’re going for. Walking is perfect for that.” There was a small part of me that wanted to kick her in the shin for saying that, but I just nodded instead. Alright, conversation over.

“Embrace the thing that is asking you to change.”

Mississippi

I was introduced to this saying by a yoga teacher of mine, and I’ve been repeating it to myself on my evening walks. Surprisingly, a subtle and curious thing has begun to happen. My walks have started to feel like a reprieve; life renewing and soul satisfying. They are a place to think and a time to dream. I’ve also started to take note of the way the wind feels against my neck, the glistening sound of the leaves against each other, the shifts in temperature the closer I get to the river… all the things you can only notice when you slow down. I am letting this ripe, bright, generous summer carry me forward when I go for my walks. Summer has arrived, and I am arriving with it. Who would have guessed?

Tell me: what change have you been embracing lately? How has summer swept you off your feet?

The Best Laid Plans

” Once we’ve thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost; but it’s only here that the new and the good begins.”

-Leo Tolstoy

My initial interpretation of this quote was “once we’re thrown off our habitual paths…” I took it to mean something much more visceral, like an outside force coming in and giving us a hearty shove off of our old rusty rails. Somehow, this interpretation made more sense to me and gave me a stronger comfort because it does, after all, promise the beginning of something new and good.

Happiness

Turns out, sometimes we really are the ones who throw off our own habitual paths: we take on a new job, we let go of a stagnant friendship, we start a meditation practice, we get off Facebook, we move across the country for love, and sometimes we just clean out our closets or go and get a haircut. We make changes in our lives to feel open and new and raw and fresh and alive. Along with the change comes inevitable vulnerability and maybe a bit of fear, but it all feels damn good and it’s all entirely necessary.

Well, it also turns out that sometimes we get knocked right off our habitual paths and we have no say in the matter: we get laid off, our loved ones die unexpectedly, we become allergic to foods, our dream grant gets funded, we meet our partner while waiting in line for a taco. At the core of it, these changes will also likely make us feel open and new and raw and fresh and alive, but the vulnerability usually hits us first and the fear is probably what we feel the strongest.

In both instances, the new and the good eventually makes it’s way to us.

I found out in early February that I’ll be having a baby in October. I found out a couple of weeks ago that the baby is a boy. I found out this weekend that he likes to wiggle and dance just as I’m ready to fall asleep.

Let’s just say that finding out this big news shoved me hard off my habitual path.

This isn’t what I had planned for myself. Nope, not at all. I wanted to be a carefree bride, go on a honeymoon somewhere peaceful, run a few more marathons, start teaching yoga classes, fix up our house, turn 30…

But those were all my own plans, and it seems as though those plans didn’t align with what was ultimately meant for me. It looks like I’ll be a bride with quite a bit on her mind (we’re getting married at the end of June), a honeymoon is being replaced with home fix-ups (at least that part will happen!), my due date lands exactly on the day of the next marathon I had hoped to run, and I’m still a couple of years shy of 30.

I’ve been struggling to not feel overwhelmed by all of this. I’ve been working hard to remind myself daily that the only thing that’s consistent in life is that it changes. That’s what makes it rich, right? But as much as I would like to be brave and strong as I face my new path, there are times when I get so scared or so mad or so disappointed that I just crumple into an inconsolable mess of sobbing. It’s not pretty, and I’m not entirely proud of it, but it’s the truth.

I spent the evening with a friend of mine who recently gave birth to a lovely baby girl. I watched my friend nurse, soothe, maneuver, bathe, and console her daughter and I thought to myself, I just don’t think I can do all of that. And it’s becoming clear to me that my habitual path has been full of thoughts just like this; ugly thoughts that leave me without much courage, strength, or belief in myself.

So maybe I needed to get shoved off that path. Maybe I needed to get placed directly into a role that I would have fearfully talked my way out of if left to my own devices. I’m getting the sense that life seems to have more confidence in me and my capabilities than I have in myself, and is offering me an opportunity to shine in a new light.

I’ve been holding onto this news for all these months for a number of reasons. Partly because I needed to let it sink in before sharing it with the wider world, and partly because I am still a bit embarrassed about getting pregnant “out-of-order” in the traditional sense.

Another reason I’ve been hesitant to share is because I know how badly some women and their partners want babies. I am sensitive to the fact that it can be an immensely painful process for couples who struggle to conceive, and that it can be crushing and heartbreaking to miscarry. I realize these things, and I hesitated to share the entirety of my feelings towards this news because I didn’t want this post to seem insensitive to the women who are in the throes of conception challenges. To all the ladies who read this and are aching for babies: please know that I love you and that it’s my hope that in sharing my truth, we can see each other’s side of the track a bit better.

We are all trying to get to our very best paths in life, and we all get knocked off our course in different ways.

We are all in this together.

So, whether your path is fresh or habitual, whether you have thrown off your path or you yourself have been thrown, let’s all start opening up to see the new and the good.

I’m trying. Everyday. Join me?

When has life thrown you a curve ball? How did you respond? How did things turn out?

Sweat and Other Forms of Awesomeness

I have a confession to make.

I love group fitness classes.

Over the past several years, I’ve taken everything I can get my hands on: step-aerobics, circuit-training, TRX, Zumba, trapeze, Pilates, Pilates barre, power yoga, deep-water aerobics. I even bought a Groupon for classes at a pole-dancing fitness studio, but I forgot about it until after the pass had expired.

I love exertion, sweat, trembling muscles, and the feeling of being utterly spent.

My newest experiment is Crossfit. Maybe you’ve heard about it? If you do a Google Search, you’ll find videos of unbelievably chiseled men and women lifting weights to motivational narrative and music. Nobody at my Crossfit gym looks like those people, but I suppose it’s great marketing. The classes are filled with barbels, rowing machines, pull-up bars, climbing ropes and scary moves called the “snatch, clean, and jerk.” It’s amazing and terrifying. But mostly terrifying.

After my work-out last night, I had dinner with my friend who knows me so well we may as well be sisters. Barbara saw me rubbing my shoulders as she pulled plates out of the cupboard, and asked if I was feeling sore. I explained my new classes, and told her how excited I was to be using my body in a way that feels so fresh, new, and out of my comfort zone.

We talked about routines and adapting to change, and marveled at how quickly we absorb the new elements we add to our lives. The rapid speed we are able to turn “newness” into “normal” struck me, and got me to thinking about how often I flip into auto-pilot during the day. I was a bit saddened to think that when things don’t feel new, they can sometimes feel like nothing.

But that doesn’t have to be true!

I decided to make a list of all the new things I’ve done and learned so far this month, and the process helped me remember that there is newness happening nearly every day.

Here’s a little sample:

  • Ran a 5k while wearing a fake moustache
  • Made homemade soup using Sunchokes (WHATchokes? My thoughts exactly.)
  • Learned a new strand of HTML
  • Wrote my first blog post!
  • Won a prize in a raffle drawing (a haircut at a fancy salon!)
  • Applied to be on the board of my local farmer’s market
  • Learned how to properly secure a Christmas tree onto the roof of my car
  • Took my niece to see  her first performance of The Nutcracker
  • Took my Mom to her first ever yoga class
  • Had my picture taken with a real, live reindeer
  • Played in the first snowfall of the season
  • Slipped and fell on the ice for the first time of the season
  • Lived through the most painful massage of my life (A Groupon I should have let expire, and another adventure with Barbara.)
  • Learned all the components of the “snatch, clean, and jerk” weightlifting technique – and I did it a whole bunch times!

So, I try new exercise classes when I feel like my life needs a kick-in-the-pants and it’s simply not practical to quit my job and move across the country. I love a hearty dose of physical challenge when the rest of things are feeling sluggish; it’s my way of channelling the restlessness that sometimes creeps its way in. But now I think I’ll keep this little method of list-making tucked away for future times when I’m feeling a twinge of the auto-pilot-blues and my muscles are just too sore to make it to another work-out class.

Try it and tell me! What are 3-5 new things you’ve done this month? I would LOVE to hear about your excitement!